To mark the beginning of the 2021-22 regular season, NHL.com is running its first installment of the Trophy Tracker series this week. Today, we look at the race for the Vezina Trophy, which is awarded to the best goalie in the League as voted by NHL general managers.
Andrei Vasilevskiy is unquestionably the backbone of a Tampa Bay Lightning team that has won back-to-back championships, starting 94 of 126 regular-season games and all 48 Stanley Cup Playoff games in that span, including winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player of the playoffs last season.
But his focus is on what's ahead.
"It's all in the past, the last two seasons, the last two Cups, all the fun," Vasilevskiy said. "We just have to turn the page and live today. Work the same way so nothing changes. It's the same goals. Play like nothing happened."
Video: Best Andrei Vasilevskiy Saves from the 2020-21 Season
With the Lightning thinking three-peat, Vasilevskiy was chosen by a panel of 17 NHL.com writers as the preseason favorite to win the Vezina for the second time in his career (2018-19), receiving 79 points, including 12 first-place votes. Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets was second with 54 points (three first-place votes), and Darcy Kuemper, who was acquired by the Colorado Avalanche in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes on July 28, was third with 27 points.
Marc-Andre Fleury, who won the award last season for the first time in his career, came in sixth with 12 points.
Vasilevskiy has been a finalist for the Vezina in each of the past four seasons, during which time he has either led or tied for the NHL lead in wins, including last season, when was 31-10-1 with a 2.21 goals-against average, .925 save percentage and five shutouts. In the playoffs, he went 16-7 with a 1.90 GAA, .937 save percentage and five shutouts to win the Conn Smythe.
"It's still hard to believe," Vasilevskiy said. "Your whole life, you just try to do your best every day and win the Cup, a team trophy. But you don't really think about personal awards. … It's not mine, it's the whole team. You can't win that award without a great team. A great team, great coaches, a great staff. It's not my award, it's our award."
Hellebuyck has been a finalist for the Vezina twice in his first six NHL seasons, including winning the award in 2019-20, when he was 31-21-5 with a 2.57 GAA, .922 save percentage and six shutouts. Kuemper has never been a finalist.
Voting totals (points awarded on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis): Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning, 79 points (12 first-place votes); Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets, 54 (three); Darcy Kuemper, Colorado Avalanche, 27; Robin Lehner, Vegas Golden Knights, 26 (one); Semyon Varlamov, New York Islanders, 16; Marc-Andre Fleury, Chicago Blackhawks, 12; Juuse Saros, Nashville Predators, 11; Ilya Sorokin, New York Islanders, 10 (one); Thatcher Demko, Vancouver Canucks, 4; Philipp Grubauer, Seattle Kraken, 4; Cam Talbot, Minnesota Wild, 3; Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens, 2; Igor Shesterkin, New York Rangers, 2; Sergei Bobrovsky, Florida Panthers, 2; Jacob Markstrom, Calgary Flames, 1
NHL.com independent correspondent Corey Long contributed to this story